Loads of thanks

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Cut, slash, reduce, pinch, squeeze, monitor and eliminate are all verbs used to describe management strategies in today’s tough climate. Scrupulous attention to costs is the mantra of the moment, and extra costs for intangible benefits come under the closest scrutiny – as they should. But there is one area that may not benefit from cutbacks, and that’s the area of driver appreciation expenditures.

Drivers are your most valuable assets but also your most worrisome. Everyone’s scrambling to hold onto good drivers for both safety and profitability, and good drivers are worth expending extra effort for. One way to express your appreciation to your drivers is by planning events to coincide with the August 25-Sept 1, 2001 National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

Suzanne Jarman, safety director for Trucks Inc., in Jackson, Ga., is an enthusiastic advocate of NTDAW. She’s watching costs like everyone else but believes that happy truckers are both safe truckers and loyal employees. This family-oriented, trucking company plans to rent out Wild Adventures, an amusement park for its 275 drivers and their families. Last year, the celebration included free admission to the park, a cookout, clowns, face painting and prizes for safe driving. Jarmon says there was tremendous response from the truck drivers, and the event gave the families a chance to meet each other and share trucking stories.

Jarmon’s efforts – including the trucker appreciation activities – have paid off. “We have about a 20 percent turnover rate and were voted the safest company in Georgia this year,” she says. A turnover rate well below the industry average and an impeccable safety record puts trucker appreciation activity expenditures in a safe-from-cuts category.

How can you show your truckers you appreciate the job they do? Commercial Carrier Journal employees will be washing truckers’ windshields and cooking barbecue at a local truck stop. Companies around the country are planning picnics, cookouts, trips to ballgames, cash giveaways and local news media promotions. There are no bad ideas as long as your drivers feel valued.

Appreciation is like an insurance policy – it needs to be renewed regularly. Expressing appreciation to your drivers may result in a more loyal and safe driving force. That’s one expenditure that you should not cut, slash or eliminate.

Chip magner is publisher of Commercial Carrier Journal. E-mail Lmagner@etrucker.com.